ETHEL's Documerica

Extraordinarily skilled, passionate musicians.
— The New York Times

Established in New York City in 1998, ETHEL quickly earned a reputation as one of America’s most adventurous string quartets. Twenty years later, the band continues to set the standard for contemporary concert music.  Known for its enlivened playing, blending uptown, conservatory musicianship with downtown genre-crossing, ETHEL has been described as “indefatigable and eclectic” (The New York Times), “vital and brilliant” (The New Yorker), and “infectiously visceral” (Pitchfork). Since its inception, ETHEL has released six feature recordings (one of them nominated for a Native American Music Award), performed as guests on 35+ albums, won a GRAMMY® with jazz legend Kurt Elling, and performed in 14 countries, 45 states, and 250 cities.

At the heart of ETHEL is a collaborative ethos – a quest for a common creative expression that is forged in the celebration of community.  In addition to premiering 21st century works by a broad range of groundbreaking composers, the quartet creates and tours rich, often multimedia, productions in which community engagement is a key element.  ETHEL is currently touring the evening-length ETHEL’s Documerica, inspired by the tens of thousands of images shot as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s decade-long Project Documerica. Launched in 1971, the initiative commissioned photographers across America to document the state of the environment and its impact on society.  Directed by OBIE Award-winner Steve Cossin, with projection design by Deborah Johnson, ETHEL’s Documerica features new works by ETHEL members and music the quartet commissioned from other uniquely American artists. The quartet released the album Documerica (Innova Recordings) in 2015. 

The quartet regularly performs works by all of the members of the ensemble, alongside music by Philip Glass, Julia Wolfe, Phil Kline, Svjetlana Bukvich, David Lang, Dan Friel, Mary Ellen Childs, John King, Jessie Montgomery, Raz Mesinai, John Zorn, Missy Mazzoli, Anna Clyne, Steve Reich, Kenji Bunch, Don Byron, Aleksandra Vrebalov, Marcelo Zarvos, Pamela Z, Evan Ziporyn and Terry Riley.  Over the past five years, ETHEL has premiered 150+ new works, many of them commissioned by the quartet.

ETHEL is the Resident Ensemble at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Balcony Bar, Ensemble-in-Residence at Denison University, and 2018/19 Quartet-in-Residence at Kaufman Music Center’s Face the Music.

ETHEL is Ralph Farris (viola), Kip Jones (violin), Dorothy Lawson (cello), and Corin Lee (violin).


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